Serrano Ham and Manchego Cheese Croquettes with Alioli

I will never forget the first time I tried my Spanish grandmother’s croquettes. They were cocido Madrileño flavour, which is a Madrid style stew with different meats, vegetables and chickpeas, and my grandmother would make croquettes with the leftovers of the leftovers. Her croquettes were utterly delicious, and still to this day, the bestest I have ever tried. I was a teenager then, so at that moment it never crossed my mind that I could ever make croquettes myself. Then through the years I had always assumed that croquette making would be a way too intricate a masterpiece for me to do. I was convinced there was no way I could craft croquettes into their cylindrical shapes and then not have them auto-convert into irregular star shapes during the frying. These are completely absurd fears I know. By the time it finally dawned on me that perhaps I too could…

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Salted Caramel Cheesecake

I’ve made this salted caramel cheesecake a few times, and it’s always turned out to be the most sinful indulgent pleasure. The first time I made it was in February. I was invited to a friends housewarming lunch party and I offered to bring a cheesecake. I gave him three options: cheesecake with some kind of berry topping, Oreo cheesecake or salted caramel cheesecake. Because he doesn’t like fruit, I had a feeling he wouldn’t choose the berry topping type. Because I had never made salted caramel, I hoped he would choose the Oreo cheesecake. He chose the salted caramel cheesecake. At first I thought: oh yum! But then as the day of making it approached, I found myself running around my kitchen in panic. Sometimes I get nervous when I’m going to cook something for the first time for a bunch of people. What if the recipe doesn’t turn out right?…

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Homemade Pork Liver Terrines: a Comprehensive Step by Step Guide

A few years ago Mr. H. and I embarked on the small adventure of making homemade terrines. I can’t remember if the idea or the book came first. What I do remember is that while in France during one of the very first few days of January 2014, we bought this cookbook simply called Terrines by Rodolphe Paquin. I also remember that I loved the elegant design of the book, and I was so excited to learn how to make terrines that I included the book in my hand luggage so that I could devour all the words and pictures during our flight back to Barcelona. Rodolphe Paquin is considered le roi de la terrine, the terrine king. The book is full of recipes for all types of terrines: meats, fish, vegetables and even sweet terrines for desserts. Even though I have made a monkfish version, most of the terrines I…

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Fish Balls With Rice Noodles

These fish balls with rice noodles are inspired by one of my favourite Indonesian dishes, a fish cake called empek empek, even though it’s quite different to empek empek. To begin with, empek empek uses a fish called tenggiri (in Indonesian) which is a ray-finned bony fish from the mackerel family. I use the Spanish cousin of the mackerel in my fish balls, because that’s the closest thing I can find here, and I sometimes like to add some fresh sardines too for some extra fishy flavour. Another difference with empek empek is that are usually cylindrical in shape, and you can later cut them into thick slices if you want to, instead of in round balls. Lastly, empek empek is usually served in a vinegar based sauce, not with rice noodles. Lots of differences I know, but the fish ball itself is very similar to my dear empek empek. Before launching…

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Beef Tongue with Caper Sauce

After an intensive cooking session of the beef tongue -including the few days preparation before if you take into account ordering the monstrous piece from our butcher and soaking it overnight- it was finally ready. We sat down to eat it. It was stunning! The beef tongue was possibly more tender than any other cut we had ever made. The harmony of flavours with all the other ingredients was perfect. The beef tongue was Mr. H.’s creation. I was just helping out. As we were eating, the conversation went like this: Sofia: This is amazing, incredibly delicious! So, does this dish have a formal name? Mr. H.: It’s called, euh, Beef Tongue with Caper Sauce. (Euh is a sound French people are always making in their sentences). Sofia: But we’ve spent all day making this, and only added the capers during the last few moments. They were literally the second last ingredient we just threw in! How…

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A Dreamy Stay in the French Countryside at Les Demoiselles

“Only he can understand what a farm is, what a country is, who shall have sacrificed part of himself to his farm or country, fought to save it struggled to make it beautiful. Only then will the love of farm or country fill his heart.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry As part of that perfect day, this post is way past overdue. I guess I have had writers block for way too long. My writing in here too infrequently is partly due to me trying hard to write about things without properly writing about them. I’m probably not making sense at all, but it’s part of trying to maintain a certain privacy on a blog thats free for anyone in the world to read. I have come to the conclusion that I should just write as it pours out naturally without worrying too much about it. So here goes. At the end of…

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Tapioca Pearl Coconut Chocolate Verrines

Honestly, what was I thinking when I did the photoshoot of these tapioca pearl coconut chocolate verrines? Tiny transparent cups with fluffy white things inside on a white surface? You can bet that when I saw the photos on my computer they looked like overexposed white blurs with brown bits. Thank goodness for photoshop coming to my rescue. What are verrines? I was first introduced to verrines at my in-laws in France. My little set of verrines were a gift from them too. Verrines literally mean small verres, small cups. And they are small cups. They are more or less a teeny bit bigger than the small cups that are for liqueur shots. The idea of verrines is to make tiny food creations that fit into the verrine cups, where the portions are small enough to sample a taste as an entrée, or like in this case, as a small dessert….

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Very Berry Cupcakes

These cupcakes have been officially named (by myself) as Very Berry Cupcakes because they have a mix of dried crushed berries both in the cupcake as such and in the cream cheese icing. Berries everywhere. Very Berry Cupcakes. But before the recipe, I am going to talk about my new swimsuit! Frankly, it seems absurd to mix swimsuits with cupcakes, but that’s my musing for today. Besides, the more swimming I do, the more cupcakes I get to eat, right? I recently bought a new swimsuit, the type for seriously swimming laps up and down the pool, not the bikini type for lying on the beach. My old swimsuit, which was an Adidas, was well, getting old. So I went out and got a new one, which coincidentally is also an Adidas. The fabric of my new swimsuit felt considerably better than my old one, though that’s partly due to the fact that…

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Tropical Fruit Granola

Even though today in real life in Barcelona we’re having bouts of bad weather, to celebrate the official instalment of spring {and above all my wishes for warmer weather} I decided to ditch my usual granola combo type with a tropical fruit granola. As if that could bring along a spell of tropical weather… But first, an angry rant. I went to my local fine food store buy some dried tropical fruits to make this granola. To be honest I’m not too sure what this kind of store is called. It’s a small shop that sells all sorts of herbs, spices, nuts, flours, etc. Everything is set out in bulk and you serve yourself into small bags. In Spain they are called tiendas de granel (bulk stores), in France they are called épicerie fine (fine spices), and I’m told in the UK they can be called pick n’ mix, but I’m not…

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My Cyber Housewarming Party Roundup

“A party without cake is just a meeting.” – Julia Child Thank you to everyone that participated in my #papayapiecesparty cyber housewarming party. You all made me smile, and I hope you had a lovely time. I was delighted at all the things we got to eat. Because all the food was in cyberspace, I suppose the good thing is that nobody needed to exercise not even an ounce of it off… It’s strange how in my real life, -and sometimes I cringe when I say real life, more on that later on in this post- everyone around me seems to not be into desserts and sweets. I seem to be surrounded by lots of people that say: oh, I’m a savoury person, I don’t really like sweet things. It just so happens that I do have a sweet tooth, so I don’t understand them. In my cyber party, however, you…

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Heirloom Boiled Eggs

These heirloom boiled eggs are one of my favourite recipes from my Spanish grandmother. My aunties also make them and as I now make them too, the recipe has reached the third generation, so I can call these boiled eggs: heirloom boiled eggs. Do you have any favourite recipes passed down generations in your family? Before the recipe, if you’ve come to Papaya Pieces before, take a look around the site and you might notice a bit of a change. Due to geeky reasons I shan’t bore you with, I’ve moved blogging house: host, platform and template. While decorating this new place, I still maintain my love for grids and my papaya orange color. While I still love minimality and always will, I wanted the design to step up a notch in boldness and fun-ness. Other minor reforms are still on the way, and I’ll show you once they’re finished….

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Pear Galette with Vergeoise Brune, Eau-de-Vie and Spelt Crust

This pear galette is inspired by one we made when I was visiting Darya from the blog Tortore. As promised, I was going to write about our fun session cooking together. When I was over in Lille just after Christmas, Darya kindly invited us over for dinner at her place. The grand plan was to have a cooking session together, and then eat it all, as good food bloggers do… Even though, as a food blogger, I recognise I’m not terribly active in the blogging part, but indeed I am in the cooking and eating part. The Menu Planning what we were going to make was pretty easy. We did not lack in inspiration. We had plenty of ideas and very multicultural ones at that. Plus we wanted to eat all these ideas. The idea was Darya would make the Iraqui falafels, I would make the Indonesian beef rendang, and…

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